Most health insurance policies cover a hefty percentage of even towering expenses once you’ve paid your deductible. But dental insurance policies have an annual limit to coverage, from $1,000 to $1,500 a year, along with a $50 to $100 deductible. To avoid getting caught with unexpected expenses, here are some key steps to take when buying dental insurance:
- Find out if you can get group coverage - The great majority of people with dental insurance have benefits through their employer or other group coverage programs. These plans are generally less expensive than purchasing individual insurance and may also have better benefits. But take a good hard look at the details of even an employer-sponsored plan to decide whether the premiums are worth the money for someone in your situation.
- Check into individual policies - More expensive than group policies, individual policies often have waiting periods for major procedures. If you’re thinking of signing up for a plan “just in time” because you need implants or a new set of dentures, realize that insurers are well aware of that tactic and institute a waiting period of perhaps a year before you can start using certain benefits.
- Examine the list of dentists in the network - Indemnity insurance plans allow you to use the dentist of your choice, but the common PPO and HMO plans limit you to dentists in their networks. If you have a dentist you like, ask which insurance and discount plans he or she accepts. If you’re OK with using a new dentist, a PPO or HMO might fit your needs.
- Know what the policy covers - In order to budget for dental expenses, it's important to carefully review the policies you’re considering. With both group and individual policies, benefits are limited and can vary significantly. Group plans may also have waiting periods, and almost all plans pay only a fraction of the costs for major work, so check the details.
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